Pitt Law presents the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project Kickoff Event
Please join Pitt Law for a kickoff reception celebrating the inaugural year of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. An opening reception will be followed by a presentation from keynote speaker, Mary Beth Tinker, civic leader and student rights activist.
Mary Beth Tinker was a 13-year-old junior high school student in1965 when she and a group of students were suspended for wearing black armbands to school to mourn the dead in Vietnam. Assisted by the ACLU, the students began a court challenge that culminated in the 1969 landmark Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines. Abe Fortas spoke for the Court's 7-2 majority in ruling that teachers and students do not "shed their constitutional rights... at the schoolhouse gate."
Currently, Mary Beth lives in Washington DC and works as a pediatric nurse, holding master’s degrees in nursing and public health. She volunteers with a number of civic education organizations, including the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, speaking frequently with teachers and students throughout the country to advocate for the rights of young people.
The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project seeks to engage students on the values and ideas inherent in the U.S. Constitution to inspire an exploration and critical look into how they play out in modern day society through the lens of student and youth rights.
Since 1999, the Marshall-Brennan Project has used the partnership of law schools and local high schools across the nation to influence the lives of America’s youth to inspire the freedom fighters of tomorrow. With eleven active chapters in ten U.S. metro areas and in over 25 high schools (and growing), the program has successfully worked as a pipeline to get students from under-served and under-represented groups on the road to college, even inspiring some to pursue legal careers. More importantly, it has showed them a world with a place for them in it.
The Project pairs students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law with local public high school students to teach an elective course on the U.S. Constitution. The project is not a replacement to Civics and History courses, but rather a complimentary, independently funded course that will allow students to learn how the government and judiciary have historically adhered to, diverged from, and shaped the course of the nation in which they live.
Students will leave the course with the ability to effectively evaluate their own world and develop their own thoughts and ideas in regards to the state of affairs of this nation, its government, the people, and their rights. Armed with a feeling of empowerment, students feel more prepared to engage the injustices that they experience day-to-day in society because they know how to access and utilize the tools necessary to fight them.